Ahmedabad: The Gujarat High Court on Friday acquitted Maya Kodnani, who was accused of inciting a mob in the Naroda Patiya massacre during the 2002 communal riots in Gujarat. Kodnani, a former minister, and a BJP leader was on bail citing her poor health. The HC acquitted her on the basis of benefit of doubt, but it confirmed the life sentence of Babu Bajrani, another convict who was accused in this case alongside Kodnani.

Communal riots had broken out across Gujarat after 57 ‘karsevaks’ or volunteers had died in a fire inside the Sabarmati Express train at Godhra railway station on 27 February 2002. Amongst the worst affected areas in the riots was Naroda Patiya, where a mob had attacked and killed Muslims in what is considered to be one of the bloodiest mass killings in the Gujarat riots. Maya Kodnani, a gynecologist by profession, was accused of inciting the mob at Naroda Patiya and a trial court had held that she was indeed the one who had organized these mass killings.

A special investigation team which was formed to look into the case had held Kodnani and 32 other responsible for the Naroda Patiya killings and a special court in Ahmedabad had sentenced her and the other accused to life imprisonment. Kodnani was supposed to spend 28 years in imprisonment, while Babu Bajrani is supposed to be in jail for 32 years in total, as per the different charges filed against them under IPC. The HC was hearing the pleas of the accused filed against the order of the trial court and confirmed the punishments of 21 out of the 32 accused in this case.